As a dog parent, planning an out-of-town trip means you also need to find a reliable and trusted sitter who will watch your pooch. You may have family and friends willing to help out, but sometimes life happens and you need to hire a professional pet sitter—someone who you know can step up to the plate and help both you and your dog.
On your journey to finding that right pet sitter, there are a few tips that can help make the process easier. After all, anyone can call themselves a pet sitter, but there are definitely a few things that set a professional apart from the others.
Where To Start
When you first begin your search for the perfect sitter, I recommend starting with family, friends, co-workers, and your veterinarian. Ask if they already have a professional who they trust. Having a personal connection will make you feel more comfortable with the sitter right off the bat.
Finally, there are a couple of professional pet sitting organizations that help and support professional pet sitters. Pet Sitters International (PSI) and National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) are the two that immediately come to mind. I’m personally a member of Pet Sitters International!
Do Some Research
Once you’ve found a few good pet sitters, go on their website and check them out. First, make sure they offer the services you are looking for. Then, read up on their history and get a solid understanding of who they are. Also, look for certifications, insurance, if they have a staff, and their fee. Doing this research before contacting them via an online form, e-mail, or phone call will hopefully make things go smoother.
If the sitter seems like a good fit, it’s time to contact them and ask questions! Part of finding a great pet sitter is listening to how they talk about their business and view pets. Here are a few questions to ask:
How many years have you been a professional pet sitter?
Are you licensed and insured?
Do you have employees?
Who will be doing the visits?
Can you give medications? (Get specific about your pet’s unique medical needs)
Do you know the signs of distress in a pet?
Do you have an emergency backup plan and what is it?
Can you follow my specific instructions?
What are the house key arrangements?
Tip: Do not wait until the last minute to find a pet sitter because you need a chance to get to know each other. When you’re in a rush, things can be overlooked that can have serious effects on you and your pets.
Schedule A Meet and Greet
The meet and greet is a chance for you and the pet sitter to interview one another and see if you hit it off. A professional pet sitter will take notes about your pet and the house. It’s common for sitters to also have you fill out an emergency form and contract. After your meet and greet, decide whether or not you are comfortable with that particular sitter. Then, let them know if you want to hire them!